For the foreseeable future, the Middle East will be home for Jesse Arnett.
Canada’s Arnett (17-6) will kickoff his stay in the desert when he squares off with France’s Elias Boudegzdame (16-6) in a 141-pound catchweight bout at UAE Warriors 15 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Friday.
Arnett, 36, said following this matchup with Boudegzdame, he plans on staying in Abu Dhabi until March, and hopes a win could help land him a short notice opportunity on one of the UFC’s Fight Island events.
“I’m 100 per cent focused on UAE Warriors, but one thing is if I get out of this fight with no injuries, as I should, they don’t have medical suspensions here. We’ll be ready to go seven days later, 14 days later, 28 days later,” said Arnett in an interview with MMA Empire.
“And with the civil war that’s about to go down in the USA right now, you better believe Dana (White) will be looking at moving those February shows from Vegas to Abu Dhabi.”
With Arnett’s impressive resume coming into this bout, having won two straight and 14 of his last 16 fights, a win over Boudegzdame could vault him straight into UAE Warriors bantamweight title contention.
Coincidentally, the current UAE Warriors bantamweight champion is fellow Canadian, and friend of Arnett’s, Xavier Alaoui, who captured the belt at UAE Warriors 14, defeating Jaures Dea via unanimous decision.
Arnett said the potential for an all-Canadian title bout for UAE Warriors is an intriguing thought, and one he’d certainly entertain.
“If I put Elias away on Friday night, you best believe I could call for a title shot. Me and Xavier were supposed to do battle before in Montreal; sometimes friends have to fight,” said Arnett.
“I’d have no other choice. I don’t want to call him out or say anything to him publicly until I get that win, but a title shot could be on the horizon.”
Arnett full of longevity
Despite his long and decorated 23-fight professional career, this will be Arnett’s first time competing outside of North America.
At his age and at this point of his career, Arnett said he feels blessed to be able to travel the world and still compete at a high level in the sport.
“When I was a young man wrestling, I used to travel the world competing, so this just brings back some memories for me and makes me realize how blessed I am to have such longevity in this sport,” said Arnett.
“My first tournament internationally might’ve been in Venezuela when I was 18 years old, and here I am years and years later in the Middle East still improving, living a healthy lifestyle, and just super thankful for sports. One thing nobody can deny is I definitely have longevity, and not too many guys keep improving over the years and have longevity, so I’m very thankful for this.”
Arnett faces a tough challenge in Boudegzdame, who is the former Brave CF featherweight champion, and a seasoned veteran like himself.
Boudegzdame has secured 13 of his 16 wins via submission, and Arnett said he’s taking into account the threat posed to him on the ground, and has full respect for that danger.
“He’s dangerous on the floor. It wouldn’t be the best idea to go take him down 10 seconds in, even though I could,” said Arnett.
“I’m going to have to break him down. I’m going to have to use my jab, I need to keep my punches long, and I’m going to have to hurt him within three or four minutes. I know he’s strong on the floor, and I have to respect that.”
“I want to thank all my teammates at Alavanca YYC, all my teammates at Bowmont Boxing, my pad man Jhonson, MTK Global, and Robin Hahn from Built 360.”